After I posted my “pic of the week” that came from my visit to the Philippines, I could not help but think about my visit there. While I have many fond memories of jeepneys, crowded streets, and great cultural dances, there was one outstanding flavor that will always stick to the roof of my mouth — the durian fruit. For those who have ever wondered what feet-flavored cream cheese tastes like, durian—the king Southeast Asian fruits—just might be up your alley. This delicacy has been described by its admirers as “smelling like hell and tasting like heaven.” Well, this is at least half true. You can smell the durian for a mile, and it’s terrible. Locals will acknowledge that durian’s flavor is an acquired taste, in much the same way many Asians find blue cheese dreadful.

During my stay in the Philippines, I had the opportunity to struggle with durian as raw fruit, cooked and topped on sticky rice, pudding, candy, and as an ice cream flavor. I am always willing to try, but each experience felt as though I had lost a bet. However, as emotionally scarring every bite was, durian is a cultural must-have and the locals will appreciate your efforts. I recommend everyone should try durian at least once while visiting any Southeast Asian nation.

On subsequent trips to Malaysia and Thailand, I could not help but want to try it again, just to make sure. Was durian still the dry heave producing fruit I had remembered? It was. I am now convinced that my hair is slowly falling out, not because of routine male-pattern baldness, but due to too much exposure to the durian fruit.

Durian looks like a thorny football, can weigh up to ten pounds, and is readily available in the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. Durian is not allowed in some hotels or on local buses due to its overpowering super stank. While its flavor and odor has never killed anyone, it grows high in a palm tree and its thorny, and weighty, disposition has fallen on the head of more than one unsuspecting durian fan.

Another story that might be of interest, Return to Japan and the Lord of the Flies

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